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PLAYground Festival of Fresh Works

PLAYground is a three-week play development process.   It culminates in a weekend long festival of staged readings of three new professionally written plays for young audiences, workshops, and post-show discussions.  For this festival, Purple Crayon seeks diversity of playwright voice, target audience, and content in our selections, and strives to pair work with student directors invested in the playwright’s development goals.

About This Year's Festival

Thank you to everyone who submitted a play for our 9th Annual PLAYground Festival of Fresh Works! We had a wonderful time reading and discussing your work. The three exciting plays in development for the festival are as follows:


Yasmin's Alien Invasion Adventure by Paco José Madden

Directed by Vanessa Strahan

2nd-4th Grade

Yasmin is a member of the Earth Defense Legion, an organization focused on protecting Earth from alien invasion. When the al-Azma family, refugees from Syria, moves in next door to Yasmin and her mom, Yasmin is forced to reconsider what an alien really is, who she is fighting against and for, and what it truly means to stand up for justice and protect those you care about.


Stories in our Stars by Jeremy Schaefer

Directed by Michael Herwitz

4-5th Grade

When Ann and Lee's grandfather passed away, he left them with one extraordinary skill: the ability to tell amazing stories. Together, Ann and Lee bring his memory closer through recounting and reimagining the one story he never finished.


Meet Me at the Gates, Marcus James by Donna Hoke

Directed by Grady Jensen

9th grade and Up

When Marcus James, the only black, openly gay student at his high school, finds a pink noose in his locker, he is faced with the decision of how to stand up for himself, while balancing his own safety and admission to Stanford.


Date: April 15th, 2017

Seabury Great Room (2122 Sheridan Rd)

Price: Free!


10:30 am: Staged reading of Yasmin's Alien Invasion Adventure

11:45 am: Panel discussion with Chicago area TYA professionals including:

Julie Ritchey - Artistic Director of Filament Theatre

Jared Bellot - Education Coordinator, Steppenwolf for Young Adults

Rives Collins - Head of TYA, Northwestern University; Past President, AATE

12:45 pm: Lunch

1:45 pm: Staged reading of Stories in Our Stars

3:00pm: Staged reading of Meet Me at the Gates, Marcus James

4:00pm: Reception with cast, playwrights, directors, and cake! 


Questions? Contact our literary manager at





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